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why is my mustard bitter?

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I tried making some mustard from the yellow mustard powder I got at the Indian grocery today by mixing it with cold water, vinegar, and some salt. However, it was bitter beyond belief - comparable to the worst bitter melons. I added honey and let it it for an hour, but to no avail. Did I do something wrong? What happened?

And if that stuff isn't suitable for making mustard, what do I do with it?

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  1. It takes a while for mustard to mellow. Over a period of days it may become more and more palatable. That stuff is NASTY when you first make it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: random amblings

      Absolutely! I needs time to develop it's proper flavor.

    2. I agree with the other poster. Dried mustard is kind of by definition, bitter. It's also strong -- stronger than you think when initially using it.

      If I were you, I'd consider this attempt an experiment and see how it mellows after a day or two. It might end up being quite nice, but initially mustard is sour and strong.

      As for other uses for it, I've never seen dried mustard in a recipe where they called for more than a 1/4 teaspoon, and often less. It may not end up being your favorite spice. (I think in (traditional) Continental cooking, dried mustard as a spice went away when dijon mustard became commercially available, about 30 years ago.) It's certainly worth experimenting with, though!

      1. I have no idea. Regular hot mustard mustard powder (like Coleman's) is never bitter, so it's not a problem common to all mustard. The heat level varies over time (goes up for a while, then "mellows" after that; vinegar can interfere with the process that produces the chem we associate with "mustard", so add it after you've mixed it up with the water alone. But that shouldn't involve bitterness, either way)

        Probably just different mustard varieties. South Asia doesn't have anything like "prepared mustard", so their mustard wouldn't be selected for that purpose. You might just try mustard from elsewhere (Canada actually produces much of the world's mustard seed.) Or get a fresher bag. Indians don't use the stuff much, so it may have sat on the shelf for a while.

        Penzey's is very good and a lot cheaper than Coleman's, but even the latter isn't absurdly expensive.

        1. I make mustard all the time and I've not experienced any bitterness. What kind of vinegar are you using? Try a higher quality vinegar, maybe? I usually make a pretty large batch, maybe 2 cups at a time, and I use about 3 tablespoons of mustard powder and LOTS of mustard seeds, both brown and yellow. Toss 'em in your blender and you've got a really nice mustard. I think it's far superior to using plain mustard powder. Here's a recipe from Caprial and John's Kitchen that I use as a base:

          1/2 cup yellow or brown mustard seeds (or a mix)
          3 tablespoons dry mustard
          1 cup water, beer, or white wine
          3/4 cup good vinegar
          1 tablespoon honey
          2 teaspoons good salt
          2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs such as basil, tarragon and thyme (optional)

          To prepare the mustard, place the seeds, dry mustard and water in a bowl and let stand 2 hours. Stir every 10-15 minutes. When the mustard seed are soft place in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running add the vinegar, honey, salt and herbs. Place in a lidded jar and allow to stand until it mellows to your taste. It will be very hot at first. Once the mustard is to your taste then place in the refrigerator to store. The mustard will keep several months.

          1. I always assumed that mustard powder is just ground up Mustard seeds, Is it not? Or do the Mustard seeds not get ground that fine in your recipe so you add powder as well? Maybe I am being a little dense today...

            I meant this as a reply to HaagenDazs..